Monday, October 7, 2013

What We've Learned - September 2013

Education is an Atmosphere
If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”  (from If by Amy Carmichael)
“Discontent will never change the world, define yourself with gratitude…when you are thankful for what God has given you do, you are fit to do it…When you are at peace with God and with His will for your life, you are equipped to do great things.” (from Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovich)
Goodies that arrived in the last sea-freight container - some for school, some for Christmas, and a new coffee plunger for mama...

Education is a Discipline
We’ve decided to tackle table-manners in earnest with the kids.  This month, we’ve been working on staying at the table until you have been given  permission to be excused.   We are also working on developing various aspect of respect, depending on the needs of various children – both in the way we treat other people as well as the way we treat our ‘things’.    And Mama’s habit?  Staying offline until we are done with all our chores and schoolwork in the morning.  Amazing what a difference this makes in the flow of our days.
We all knew that the real purpose of Cuisenaire rods is just for building, right?

Education is a Life
Michelle – Age Almost-8 – Grade 2
We have completed weeks 18-21 of AO Year 1, and I am pleased with how it is going.   Among other readings, we finished D’Aulaire’s Benjamin Franklin and have moved on to George Washington.   We are also enjoying the mix of legend and fact in Our Island Story – we’ve read about the coming of the Saxons and the rise of King Arthur to power.  Eskimo Twins is another favorite story at the moment. (This is a substitution we made in place of Paddle to the Sea.)  She also really likes Wild Animals from Africa, but it is starting to drive me crazy…maybe I need to pass this one off to her for independent reading to finish?  I don’t think we’ll use this one again.  We’ll probably be in the States the year James does Year 1, so we may just do the Burgess Bird Book as scheduled.  Anyhow.  We are still doing a weekly notebook page related to one of our readings and her output has slowly increased to a full paragraph (4-5 sentences).   Now to tackle her spelling…
In Math U See Beta, we have finished Lesson 9.  Michelle picked up on the concept of regrouping in addition pretty easily, so we are still moving along at a much quicker pace than we did through Alpha.   I guess I didn’t need to worry about being “behind” last year, because we are gaining a lot of ground now, I’m guessing in part because we took our time with mastering our basic adding and subtracting facts.   We continue to use MEP Year 1 (almost finished) as a supplement for problem solving and alternate ways of looking at numbers, as well as Calculadder drills for continual facts practice.
In nature study, we’ve been able to identify several of the birds who have been visiting our yard – in particular the speckled mousebird.  We’re pretty sure one has built a nest in the bush bordering our backyard.  We are also enjoying our exploration of the properties of light in Science in the Beginning.  Our memory project last month was a speech of Oberon’s from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was a hit with all of the kids.  (They are starting to get really excited about Shakespeare, my English-lit-major sister will be so pleased.)  We also started doing a weekly art class with another homeschooling family.  Michelle sometimes feels like she is missing out on the social life at school, so it’s been good for her to have an opportunity to do something with another homeschooler (there aren’t many in our city).
Homeschool Art

James – Age 5 – “Unofficial” Kindergarten
James is so much fun to work with.  We have worked through Lessons 1-10 in the McGuffey Primer (you can see the gist of the idea here..I’m hoping to do another post on our take on this basic idea soon).  He’s really starting to pick up on reading, and read Green Eggs and Ham to me last week with only a little bit of help.   He also loves doing nature journaling (and is often the one to spot new birds), drawing and memory work with us.  We are slowly moving through MEP 1A (taking 3-4 days to work through each ‘daily’ lesson), and he is enjoying that.  We’ve been learning about greater-than and less-than, patterns, and one-to-one correspondence.
James is meticulous about his handwriting.

Elizabeth – Age 3-1/2 – Tagging Along
Elizabeth is doing better in the “not interrupting” department J Perhaps this month we need to tackle the idea that scissors are for cutting paper (not holes in your clothes or your sister’s hair….)
The best part of homeschool art: it keeps the little ones occupied too.

Mama – AO Year 4
I’ve read Weeks 1-4 in AO Year 4 and am REALLY enjoying it.   I’m finding Robinson Crusoe much more readable than I ever imagined, and Tennyson’s poetry is lovely as well (I’ve never been a poetry buff).  History is probably my favorite ‘subject’ at the moment.  I’ve even made several connections between the Year 4 history readings and Waverley (the Scott novel I am reading with a group on the AO Forum)!   And this quote from Poor Richard (about Benjamin Franklin) just made me smile:  “Ben ferreted among the bookshops with the sniffing eagerness of a rabbit hound, finding treasure in old and new books, reading with delight the new thriller called Robinson Crusoe, and wondering with all of London if it was really a true story or a marvelous fake by a Grub Street genius.”  Some of the ideas that I’ve drawn out and am pondering: Are factual stories superior to fiction?  Is it better to be captured and risk death or live in hiding for the rest of your life?  How does one know what is the right and wrong thing to do in a complicated situation?
Have I mentioned that I love AO?

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